Iron Behind the Velvet - Chapter 32

~ The Subtle Electric Fire1

(some adult content)

sunrise over Central Park, from C's balcony
Steam billowed into her bedroom, swept from the bath in suspiring wisps through the balcony door left slightly, hopefully ajar. She stepped outside. The last mists swirled about her, vanishing like dreams upon awakening. The sun rose into a pale blue sky, shaded pastel to jewel in streaks of rose and copper and amethyst, though in the west dark clouds roiled at the horizon. She’d take her umbrella, just in case.

dressing table with collection of perfume bottles
Seated at her dressing table, she pulled a comb through wet hair and searched for her watch, finding it wedged in the cityscape of perfume bottles. When she pulled at the band, the face inched into clear view and she frowned at the position of the hands.

Within the roar of the blow dryer, she struggled to clear a space in her mind for the day ahead. The hours just past, the hours with Eimear and Rosie and Martin ... with Vincent ... held her fast. But there was a bag on her couch bulging with work and in the very place she’d dropped it Friday night, and her answering machine, flush with messages, blinked with reproach underneath the pillow she’d heaped upon it on a trip to the kitchen for water. She silenced the tool. On the streets below, the blare and screech of traffic was a discordant symphony. I’ve snagged front-row center tickets, she muttered. And I don’t want to go.

The doors still unfastened, a purl of air circled the room. It riffled the bedding, the ribbons of her gown where it spilled across the bench ... murmured against her skin, a feathered touch. When she whirled, she was alone, but her bed, the covers thrown aside, a pillow lengthwise bearing yet the imprint of her zealous embrace, called her back. If only, she thought, turning again to the mirror, where her reflection wavered silvery ...

One morning Vincent led her to this stool, having washed her hair in the shower, having massaged away the jarring predawn alarm with gentle circles at her temples and behind her ears, having held her in the lock of one arm, her head cradled in his hand and just beneath the spray. He bent to her, touched his tongue to the water pooled in the hollows of her collarbone ... wrapped her in white, urged her to sit ... teased out the tangles he apologized for making.

She watched the glass, where his every move was a blessing she counted – a shift of his feet, the flexing muscle of flank, of abdomen, the hitching-up of the towel draped low on narrow hips. Her hair lay cool against her shoulders, stroked into ridges and valleys away from her face. He gathered a strand, spiraled it between his thumb and forefinger, pulled down its length ...

“Catherine. So dark, like honey secreted deep within the comb.”

Behind her he knelt and loosed the tuck of her wrap. It fell in folds around her.

He parted her hair, swept the smooth wings forward and with a slow exhale and then his lips, he warmed her nape, his tongue and teeth grazing the cords of her neck. Against the kisses down the valley of her spine, against the velvet rasp of beard, she arched into his hands; her nipples pearled ... caught in the V of his fingers. She cried out when he abandoned her breasts but his mouth was on the small of her back; his hands were sliding over her thighs, slipping between her knees. He’d carried her to bed.

“How sweet, Catherine. So sweet.”

There had been a moment – fleeting, imponderable – when above her his eyes darkened from cloudless sky to glittered cobalt. A moment when his skin flushed the color of thunder in the dark of night. When his voice ... descended.

Look away ...

She’d swear she heard him speak, though not with her ears, the demand resonating beneath her breastbone. There was a cooling of her skin. He’d raised his head, averted his gaze ... had ceased his long, gifting stroke. With nothing more than will, she brought his face ‘round to hers. His hair fell in a golden curtain to her shoulders, shimmering in the candlelight, closing out the world.

She shook her head – slowly – denying him this one thing. No.

And then from his lips, rushed as if a flame were tipped to long-stacked tinder ...

Catherine ... I am. I ... am ...

A sudden saber of light dimmed her vision to black. She was weightless with him, rocked in the eddy of the nameless river, wrapped with him, the surly bonds of earth slipped, the darkness a rapture and a glory ...

After he’d departed, she took a second shower. Under the pulsing spray, she wondered if she’d seen ... if she’d heard ...

Even now, she wasn't entirely sure. What he'd said to her on the rooftop ...

All that we will never know 

If I no longer deny 

If I give the darkness freedom

She opened her eyes to her reflection and the sun streaming in, to that truth beyond knowledge ...

Our bond, Catherine. In concurrence.

A second alarm rang, set the night before as insurance against her anticipated reluctance. This won’t do, she thought. With a weak laugh, she pushed away from her dresser. In the kitchen, she went straight for the kettle, filling it with water from the five-gallon bottle on its stand in the corner, setting it on the flame.

Owww, she thought, rotating her shoulders. An ache plucked at her. Is that from sleeping on the ground? Still? She touched her forehead with the back of her hand. Am I getting sick? I really shouldn’t be tired. She ran the tap water hot to warm her mug and the glass press, then leaned her hip against the counter to wait for the whistle. And I really should get going ...

Water was delivered to her now, water captured from the mineral spring at the ledge at the falls. Every Monday morning, she found two bottles at her door. On the rare occasions when she made after-theater coffee for friends or had people over for dinner, someone would demand to know why the taste of their water, purchased from the same company as her bottle’s label, seemed different. She could only shrug and shake her head. At least she could – and did – direct them to her coffee seller.

Phillip and Iris. Last fall at Mary’s birthday party, she’d met the helpers who for years had supplied William with the green beans he roasted himself and Father with his favored British blend of tea, one she herself loved, a delicate, smokey cup, winey and rich with malt. Father greeted each new packet of loose leaves with the glee of a child on Christmas morning.

She was with Sebastian at the railing in the Great Hall, watching as Vincent led Mary to the floor for the first dance of the evening. With his arms braced on the bannister, his hands clasped, Sebastian sighed and hung his head. "How long is long enough?" he’d mumbled. Days later when she thought of it, she assumed his question was for her, for Vincent.

A burst of conversation captured her attention. A few steps away, William stood with two guests, a man only a inch or two taller than Catherine and a woman surely six feet tall. It was satisfactory, William announced, to roast just once each week. Each kitchen assistant was assigned a turn with the hand-cranked roaster and then the grinder, though relief might appear, he said, chuckling, should someone have been caught rummaging the pantry shelves after hours.

“Three or four hooligans, an hour each,” William said, turning to hurry away. “That gets her done.” Already he waved a warning at Kipper and Geoffrey skulking too near the keg of home brew.

“One should roast every day, just enough,” Phillip called out. “I’ve told you and told you. Begged you.” His lips turned down and Iris took his arm, patting it with such sympathy, Catherine was sure she saw tears form in the corners of their eyes.

“I could use some coffee advice,” Catherine said.

Ah,” Philip sighed, his smile sudden, startling against his espresso-colored skin. “Let me guess. Decent one day, oily murk the next? You’ve tried three machines, each more expensive than the last and it’s still a crapshoot?”

Catherine nodded. “How did–” Iris led her down the stairs to a small table, where she and Phillip settled into chairs, their faces solemn and their eyes wide.

“Tell us,” they said as one, bending forward to listen. “We can help you too.”

They asked for her address and the next Saturday her telephone rang at eight-thirty in the morning. She was just in from her run and had a day’s work spread over her dining table. Visitor, her doorman announced.

And then Iris was at her door, the handle of a large canvas shopping bag gripped in both hands. She sniffed the air and a sadness creased her face. “I just can’t let you go on living like this, burning it. I’ve brought you the fix for ... for ...” she sputtered, eyeing the coffee maker steaming on the sideboard.

Catherine laughed and ushered her inside. She marched to the dining area and removed the carafe, hurrying it to the sink. She unplugged the newest machine and set it outside on the balcony. “Out of sight,” she said, dusting her hands.

french press coffee pots, different sizes
Iris unpacked a bag of fragrant beans and two French presses, one tall, the other a miniature version in a filigreed silver cage. “I know you young women are too busy to roast, but if you’ll grind every morning or ...” She swallowed hard and lifted a black box grinder from her bag. “Or every other morning. See, you sit down and hold this one between your legs. Perhaps Vincent ...” She looked around the room, then back at her, her expression unreadable. “We’ll send you something special along. Please, please promise me. Promise me you’ll never buy–” Iris broke off with a grimace of pain.

“Promise,” Catherine said and crossed her heart.

That afternoon, the first bottles of water were delivered. “Benny!” she cried when she answered his knock.

“Nope. Jimmy. But I know you, Catherine. I’ve delivered a few messages to you on the bike. Never time to explain.”

“You’re ... twins?”

He shrugged and grinned and trundled the dolly with its cargo back and forth.

Soon an aromatic package arrived in her mailbox and three days later, another and after that, a third. Not once had they forgotten her – small amounts, a different bean or blend or roast each time. After a week, she admitted defeat and purchased an electric burr grinder from Berceli’s, though lately Vincent had taken on the task of grinding, seated on the undersized chair in her kitchen, the hand-tool clamped between his knees.

They’d given her directions to their store written in squared script on the back of a business card imprinted only with their names. Not all that far from St. Vincent’s hospital, she’d mused. Or from Rosie’s shop, she realized now. Their store was a treasure trove of aroma and sight and sound. And people. Rosie would love it. Eimear too. I wonder if they know each other?

The kettle chirped and she snapped off the burner. With a longing look at the larger pot, she measured in the coarse grounds and streamed water into the single server, twisted the timer’s dial and began the five-minute wait.

Forever ago, she sighed, and it seemed so, though only two weeks had passed since he’d been with her, here in the kitchen in the blue-dark of morning. She'd stood at the stovetop waiting for the wail of the whistle and he was behind her wearing the soft robe she’d found for him, his hands at her waist, his cheek turned to her crown. A minute ticked by; a rustle like wind in the treetops gathered within the kettle. He tightened his grip and she felt the quickening of his breath, the press of his desire against her. He nuzzled at her neck ...

Oh, Catherine. The excitement.2

She shut off the flame, turned to him, tugged away the belt of his robe. Yes, she said, backing him through the doorway. The excitement.

She’d given him no chance to undress. The plush fabric spread beneath him on the bed, she moved over him, tasting him ... the knob of his ankle, the ridge of muscle at his knee. She dipped her tongue into his navel, pressing her smile against his skin when he flinched. It tickled, she knew. Afterward, she pushed his arms above his head, sliding her own inside the wide sleeves, lacing her fingers with his. His ribcage heaved and she rested there until thought returned, until words ...

She drew back her arms and cuddled to his side, reaching for the hem of the robe, smoothing it up and over his chest. This color, Vincent. So beautiful on you. It was yours, the moment I saw it.

What do you call it, this color, he’d asked. His fingers again interlaced with hers, he brushed both their hands across the rich patterned pile, laughed when she told him, sighed and closed his arms around her.

Lion, she’d whispered. It’s called Lion.

She wore his robe now, craving the scent of him, though in the few weeks of his possession, there’d been little opportunity for it to acquire his cedary-sandalwood, amber-musk scent. Still, she wrapped herself tighter within its embrace. The timer dinged. She poured and stirred and sipped, but found her first cup of coffee not as tasty taken alone.

All the clocks of her kitchen – the stove, the microwave, the radio – glared at her. Over the rim of her mug, she glared back and tried to shuttle her meandering thoughts into the channel of work. Should she leave in the next twenty minutes, she’d be just pardonably late, but there was unsorted mail on her dining table and the sun lit the balcony. Pulling back the curtains, she remembered Rosie demanding Joe’s watch, that he’d pocketed it with a dazed expression. If she were lucky, he might be unaware of the hour.

Central Park, Naumburg Bandshell
Her second cup of coffee half-finished, she studied the donor’s flyer from the Naumburg Orchestra, pleased to see Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings on the summer concert schedule. He loves that one. The center spread was a lush illustration, two emerald-colored pages edged with Celtic ornamentation. Stanford’s Irish Rhapsodies! The entire series! The performances were set for June and July, but she ached to tell him now.

Reaching for her checkbook, a captivating vision took shape. Together under the bandshell, beneath the first row ... pillowed and blanketed from the stone and cold. Eimear was there. And Flynn. And Rosie too ... her hand in Joe’s.

In a flood, the depth and breadth of the past days washed over her. Rosie’s sculpture ... it was Vincent ... she should know him. Vincent ... grateful now for that night under the full moon. He should tell her. Eimear ... his shirt in her hands. I want to share all of this.

We have to ... do something, Vincent. We must. Months ago, there was Flynn and his pain was your pain. I saw it in his eyes. And Eimear, the meaning of her name.3 I remember what you told me, what Brigit said about you, about Cú Chulainn.4 Then I saw her again ... Eimear ... in Rosie’s shop and found the gift I brought to you, the bronze and the geode.5 Now Rosie’s shop again, the marble angel, her story. Your story. The music you heard. The entry within the wall. And Martin. You spoke to him. You told me you did. There’s something true between us, between us all. So little separates us. I feel it. It’s warm and good and for the first time I think I could ...

But guilt surged, curling over, breaking on her shoulders. How can I think of myself? Kanin. Is he back? Is he all right? Could it be Mitch, back to plague us all? It can’t be. It just ... can’t. But even if it weren’t, the worst must be considered, the unnamed threat beaten back with stone-fall and craft.

With effort and fortitude. His ... and hers as well.

vintage photograph, light streaming into grand central station
In Rosie’s apartment above her shop, there was a photograph from World War II, faded to sepia tones. Grand Central Station, a shaft of morning light. A man in uniform, frozen in half-turn, a stoic wave to a smiling wife and saluting son. How I miss him. But others had suffered longer ... and more, she scolded herself, reminded of Olivia – distraught and anxious. Of Kanin – bewildered and self-condemning.

The bond between them – the singing wire of her mind and heart – was a mystery, but she couldn’t ... wouldn’t ... burden him. She deflected the stab of dread icy beneath her ribs. Corralled her yearning to confide, for revelation. Consoled her restless self with memory, with the anticipation of reunion.

Faith. Courage. A chord struck in her heart.

I have that. I do. And patience. If I’ve learned anything ...

Catherine's apartment, front door, flanked by horned sculpture
She folded her arms on the table and lowered her chin to rest, her gaze gliding over the changed apartment. A half-dozen trips to her basement storage locker and a few keepsakes gleaned from her father’s things did not adequately replace the things she’d moved Below. The rooms seemed smaller somehow, duller, less ... purposed. Of the few friends visiting in the last weeks, only Jenny remarked on the variations. Raising her brows, giving her a pointed look, she stared at the sculpture returned to its stand by her door. “Oh. The horns are back,” she said, lapsing into a short but awkward silence.

Her head hurt even to imagine the bright lights of her office, the din and argument, the attack she’d have to make on a teetering stack of affidavits and motions. Here the big storm is still on … 6 She turned her cheek to her arms, wishing the day were over, that it was nighttime, that she could expect the soft, tentative tap he still gave before crossing her threshold.

When this is done, when your work is finished and you’ve come home, we’ll talk about Helpers, won’t we, Vincent? And how it is that some come to be your ... our ... friends?

Like birds’ wings against a window, there was a skittering sound. A tapping. Someone at the door? Probably Jimmy with the water. She rose, remembering the empty bottles in her kitchen.


He sat up, scooted backward to lean against the wall, raising his knees into the circle of his arms. Even with the borrowed mattress and the pillow he’d found crushed at the center of the bedroll, the stone seemed cold and unforgiving. He’d slept, but the hour was fitful and fraught with dreams. The night before, with Catherine in the crook of his arm, with her under his cloak curled to him on his pallet, he’d taken the bare ground beside her, slipping easily into the deep meditation that gave him true rest. But now his thoughts were unsettled, a tangled skein of determination, annoyance, curiosity and delight. A part of him was far away in the most northern tunnels, methodically laying stone upon stone, closing old doorways, opening new and secret portals. Working with focus and intensity to finish, to succeed. A part of him held Kanin in a steely grip, whispered cold consequence into his ear, sent him home ... or gone. His mind replayed the past hours of conversation Above, the past days of magnetic pull that would not be denied. Like a heartbeat, Flynn’s name sounded, repeated ... behind it, Martin’s promise ... bráithre.

And overarching, both understory and canopy, everything ...


A blush crept up from his collar. He tried to shake it away with a toss of his head, but the vision came, all his senses gathered up, his memories nearly tangible in the low lantern light. She was liquid jewel beneath him – ruby and emerald, rose-tourmaline and topaz – on a bed of ivory. The keenness of her fire was his, the taste of her nectar on his tongue. More than the desire to possess, he wanted ... yes ... to be one ... with her, to transfigure to a new and brilliant being. She was the giver of stars.7

Once ...

Once he’d come so close and now he’d vowed to her to no longer deny ...

At his temple, a rubber hammer struck an anvil once ... twice. Again. He rubbed his face, reached for the canteen Mouse had left for him. Splashed his cheeks and neck, drank long and deep. He rocked forward, rose to his feet.

Miles to go, he said to no one, his head tipped back, a fog creeping in, clouding his thoughts. And promises to keep.8


A note came slipping under her door, the butter-yellow envelope Father favored for correspondence. She started across the floor to retrieve it, but jumped and froze at the ring of her telephone. Despite being muffled, the sound still blared. Joe, she expected, but when the answering machine picked up, she heard Jenny’s voice.

Where are you, Cathy? I called you yesterday at least eight times! I need to talk to you. Today. Call me or I’m coming to your office.

Well, that explains the messages, most of them anyway, she thought. For a long moment, she stood at the telephone table, then removed the pillow. The counter blinked a double digit. The erase button was a strong temptation, but instead, she turned on her heel.

Sharply creased in precise thirds, the heavy paper bore an invitation –
We miss you, Catherine. I miss you. I’d be honored ~ pleased ~ if you’d join me for supper tonight or at least a late tea?
I am, ever your loving father,
Not so long ago, she’d have rejoiced at such a request. How far we’ve come! But how can I go for supper? How can I go Below at all, unless I hear from Vincent. Unless I have news of Kanin’s return. I can’t lie to Father or pretend with Olivia to know nothing. Aniela said she would call, but who knows where I’ll be this morning. She took a surreptitious look at the clock on her mantle and groaned.

No water delivery greeted her when she opened her door and stepped into the hallway. Juggling her briefcase and purse and a folder of notes she should read in the taxi, she scooted the two empty jugs over the threshold with her foot and fumbled her key into the locks. The elevator was crowded with glum passengers and she fit right in.

Share? We're going your way.

New York City skyscrapers, view of dark, rainy sky
It was her neighbor, a man she'd met in the storage area late one afternoon. She'd been on her way Below and had to waste a precious hour sorting a box for the second time, waiting for privacy. He'd been eager to talk, though mostly about himself. Now he held the cab’s door open for her and she climbed in, smiling a hello at the woman already pressed against the window. The driver screeched away from the curb just as Benny sailed past on his bike, his hair flying, a pink bubble of gum forced roundly into the wind. Craning her neck to the rear window, she saw Jimmy’s battered wood-paneled station wagon nose into the empty space, but squeezed between two people already busy with calculators and spreadsheets, she had no hope of exiting the lurching car. She’d never seen the brothers together. With a flounce, she settled into her seat, acquiescing to the demands of the day. The sky had darkened and a spatter of rain drilled the roof overhead.

Drat. I forgot my umbrella.

Click HERE for Chapter 33


1. Walt Whitman. Oh, you whom I often and silently come … from Song of Myself. Leaves of Grass. 1860.
2. Frank McCourt. from Angela's Ashes and 'Tis. "The Excitement" is his term for lovemaking.
3. from I Carry Your Heart. Chapter 3. Counterparts.
4. Season 1. Masques.
5. from I Carry Your Heart. Chapter 7. Love-Throb in the Heart.
6. Rainer Maria Rilke. Letters to Clara Rilke. August 17. 1904.
7. Amy Lowell. The Giver of Stars. from Sword Blades and Poppy Seed. 1914.
8. Robert Frost. Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening. 1923.


New York City Utopia said...

Thank you...

Anonymous said...

It was nice to read about how Catherine is fitting into the community Below where she gets fresh water and wonderful coffee. Though not physically together, it was also nice to read about Catherine and Vincent thinking of one another. Is she getting ready to quit her job for good and go below? Sounds like it, or maybe the stage is being set for friends Above that she and Vincent can enjoy together. Questions! Mystery! I love it!

Carole W said...

Thank YOU, Claire. :-)

Anon - I don't think Catherine's going to move Below all together or quit working, but 'things' may well happen to change a few things around. Don't want to spoil all the mystery! because there's many more chapters to come. I'm glad you're enjoying the story.

~ Carole

Krista said...

Carole, this is full of so many wonderful moments---the coffee fiends (whom I can totally relate to LOL,) Vincent and Catherine together (:::fans self::::), the lion robe, and all of those wonderful layers of community and belonging.

I can't wait to read more.


SandyX said...

Very nice. I'm enjoying every chapter. So, Benny has a twin? and Sebastian..."how long is long enough?" hmmm so many questions. I'm ready for the next chapter!

Carole W said...

Krista, thank you so much. The lion robe - there really is a color called that. The company that makes that robe offers more than 60 colors, many with exquisite names. I felt it serendipitous to find a color called Lion and so it had to go into the story somehow.

I am the coffee fiend too, so if I've written myself into the story at all, its the love of the brew.

I'm very glad I could get the fans going - imagine the reunion scene! I am! LOL.


Carole W said...

Sandy, LOL. I had this problem with Benny. I kept calling him Jimmy. Finally it hit me to make him a twin. Then if I get his name wrong ... it won't matter!

Luckily, since the scene with Sebastian is a flashback, we've seen that he's asked Mary for a date recently in chapter 26.So he's decided it's been long enough. I wonder if Mary will take to him ...

Ready for the next chapter?!? Oh dear. I'm taking a seminar tomorrow called Finish Your Novel by the End of the Year. Let's hope I pay good attention.


New York City Utopia said...

How about Finish Your Novel the Week Before Winterfest? I'm confident that would suit most of us ;-)
Or even, Finish Your Novel After Winterfest, Thereby Helping Your Friends Fight Tunnel Withdrawal...
Seriously, I loved the robe, the memories, the Bond, the little trick with the twins... I'm also quite ready for the next chapter.

Krista said...

LOL, Carole, I wish I'd thought of that solution to the Benny dilemma---I just gave up and called him "Gary" in "Sensations" :)

I love (now that you pointed it out---but that's the way it is with your stories, I always want to read them more than once to figure out what I missed the first three or four times ;) how Catherine is picking up on Vincent through the bond. Those aches and pains aren't hers, but his. Awesome. And wonderful. :)

Great job again,


Vicky said...

Wow... that scene... *fanning self* That teasing kind of imagery you're able to pull, saying so much in just a line or two, a word or two... you're fabulous! I'm clapping!

Coffee, coffee... I have one of those manual coffee grinders, I'll go do it right away, just for the thrill of enacting the feeling (if tha makes any sense). LOL!

An invitation from Father... the increasing closeness... I love it!

Vincent needs the world she lives in, too. She is his window to it; she can't move Below for good! I don't think she would be happy.

Sonia Who? said...

Nice chapter. Always a pleasant experience reading what you write.

It's funny how much of a caffeine addict Catherine is. She loves coffee maybe more than father loves tea? When she gets pregnant she's going to have to drink decaf (yuck) and suffer withdrawal.

Didn't think aches/pain could be transmitted through the bond, just strong emotions. Trying to figure out what Vincent was trying to say -

Catherine ... I am ... I ... am ...

... all that we will never know ...

... if I no longer deny ... if I give the darkness ... freedom ...

Our bond, Catherine. In concurrence ...

Like how Father sign his invitation to Catherine -
I am, ever your loving father. It shows how much their relationship and feeling towards the other have changed.

Hope the wait for the next chapter is not long. Really anxious to see the rest of the story unfold, can't wait for Eimeer and Flynn to finally become friends with Catherine and Vincent. Hope the seminar works for you.

Carole W said...

Krista, I think this chapter has caused some furrowed brows, and I've answered a couple of similar questions. I hope I have been able to clarify some of the mystery and yet I don't want to dispel the mystery.

The "Catherine, I am ... I ... am" dialogue IS mysterious. He is ... WHAT?

See, I think Vincent is conscious somewhere deep inside himself of his more-than-a-man state. He knows something more than he can perhaps articulate or even understand. It's out of his grasp as well but he's journey to unite - to some degree - with his denied self. During lovemaking, as he once feared, his defenses weaken, though I think Catherine sees is not as weakening but as glorifying.

But the Sandwich guy wasn't the same guy as Benny the bicycle messenger, was he? The sandwich guy didn't have a name - until you gave him one. LOL.

Carole W said...

Vicky, I agree. Catherine, for both her well-being and Vincent's sake, should live above as well as below. It can't be easy for her, can it.

I have some ideas for making the transition between the two worlds a bit easier, and it will be revealed soon, I promise. But no, I don't think she would be happy living only below and Vincent needs access to the world Above. Actually, that's what I'm aiming for, his increasing access and family Above.

And Father is becoming the jewel, isn't he Catherine has affected so many lives below. Love Her! Now if Father just had a girlfriend of his own (Not Mary).

Carole W said...

Thank you again, NYCU! The seminar was motivating. I just wish I didn't have to sleep or clean.

I'm glad you liked the chapter. I know it was a little mysterious in parts.

Vicky said...

Nope, Bennie-Bike is not the same guy as nameless-sandwich.

Holy cow, I keep going back to "that scene", and it's like every time, one gets more into it what they both mean...
"Look away..." *sigh*

Big hugs, Carole!

Anonymous said...

In "The Outisiders" Catherine told Vincent that we all have a dark side. Some may be darker than others but I agree it's something we all have to deal with. With Vincent, only a love like Catherine's can help him work through his fear of his own dark side, as she has in the past. Maybe being able to spend time Above in the light with friends would lessen that darkness. Guess we'll have to wait and see.

Krista said...

Carole, I would never call it "clear as mud." ;) I think the mystery (and the fun) of Vincent as a character is that no one, not even he, knows what he really is. So of course he fears that darker side of his nature---why wouldn't he? There's no one who gets exactly what it means to have those instincts and feelings in the way that he feels them, because whatever he is, he's unique as no one else is.

So I get what you mean. Now. :)

-Krista :)

Carole W said...

Hi Sonia. Thanks for the reading and the questions. I guess you're right about the caffeine. Catherine had better drink up while she can!

Now about the mysterious parts of the chapter:

I think Vincent's fatigue is more emotional than physical - there's the threat from the outside, there's responsibility toward Flynn - though he doesn't even know him, there's a bond almost growing between the two, Bráithre. Kanin's personal issues weigh on him. He feels drawn personally to the Martin/Eimear/Flynn situation but is obligated to tend to other issues. He wishes he could just be with Catherine since they're still basically on their honeymoon (because they deserve a very long one!)

And there's this: Catherine ability to "receive" the bond is not as advanced as Vincent's ability. She interprets the niggle of the bond differently. Catherine may never be able to receive the information of the bond as Vincent does, but she feels ... something ... though she can't exactly explain it and indeed, doesn't recognize it as 'bond' communication.

Now to your question - During this particular lovemaking V's barriers weakened and his separated self leaked through. He asked her to look away, since he doesn't want her to see him in that condition but she refuses to deny his otherness.

Then he does say something mysterious -

Catherine I am, I ... am ...

I know! ... "I am ... WHAT?"

I don't think it's quite explainable - since I don't think Vincent is explainable - but I do believe that Vincent knows, even if subconsciously, something more about himself, about his more-than-a-man state. He's on a journey to unite with the denied parts of himself, made beautiful and possible by Catherine's love, and even though he thinks he came to that conclusion (mid-story, after hearing Catherine and Martin speak at the party) that he's finally ready, he's been approaching ready for a while.

Maybe someone will point that out to him soon.

But it's Catherine who says or thinks this:

... all that we will never know ...

... if I no longer deny ... if I give the darkness ... freedom ...

Our bond, Catherine. In concurrence ...

She's at first remembering him saying I Am ... from a time before this story starts in the flashback and then she remembering some things he said to her in Chapter 20. She's not sure what she saw or heard, but she knows the rapture of it, like she felt on the rooftop in Chapter 20 - the spiraling borealis of the bond when she gets it too.

This is probably clear as mud now. I've probably made it worse ... :-(

The part of Chapter 1 that sets that flashback up begins with this line (at the end of the chapter):

But always, he quelled a sense of pressing, almost menacing imperative ...

~ Carole

Carole W said...

Vicky and Krista, thanks for sharing in the glories of mystery!

Anon - are you reading my mind? LOL.

It might be nice for V to sit around, having a beer with friends, taking a turn on the squeezebox. He might just have the hands for it.

I hope I won't keep you waiting that much longer to see. The seminar I went to gave us all techniques to write FASTER. We'll see. I'm starting tomorrow with the suggestions.

Krista said...


I love the visual of Vincent with the squeezebox, but I think his hands are probably better suited for the bodhran LOL. ;) I think the keys and buttons on a squeezebox tend to be a bit tiny....but it doesn't really matter in the end. He just needs some time with people who aren't going to expect anything from him. :)

Oh, and regarding pregnancy and caffeine--I was told, when I was pregnant with my daughter three years ago, that one cup a day is fine. I'm just sayin'....:)

Mmmm, I love mysteries. :)


Carole W said...

You know, I agree with you about the squeeze box. He might be able to play the keys with his nails, but you're right, the bodhrán is more likely his instrument. He does have an internal rhythm, a heartbeat rhythm, I think.

My obstetrician made the suggestion that I give up caffeine, but confessed that while she did give it up with her first child, she went the cup a day route with her second.

I only have one cup a day myself, but I found the largest cup I could fill and still lift! LOL.

SandyX said...

Hi Carole, I just re-read this chapter - since you won't give us a new one to read ;-) I have to say that that scene: Look away... and She shook her head - slowly. I just think that's perfect. It sums up, is symbolic of so much of their relationship. And, I can picture it. It rings very true for them. Nice.

Carole W said...

Sandy, thanks. I know that scene was a little vague. That it rings meaningful and true to you ... that's music to my ears.

He wonders how she can bear to look at him and she will look no other direction. (Imagine a love that has never been when V is an integrated being!)

Something I've come to believe is this: When you commit to something or someone - fully commit - the universe moves to make it easier, to make things happen in support of that commitment.

And yea, this comment page is working again!


Vicky said...

Must jump on here: I didn't find that scene vague at all! In fact, the "Look away..." was a line that stood up for me as I read it for the first time. It's hard to explain, but rather than any thought, it triggered a feeling, a kind of protectiveness... "No, Vincent, you're wrong", and like you said, she would look no other direction.

Carole W said...

Vicky! Yea! I'm pleased to get your comment after Sandy's today - that scene was important to me - and I very much wanted it to have weight and meaning (plus poetry) and it is absolutely central to the theme of the story. It was the subject line of a few questioning emails though - but I couldn't change it.


Carole W said...

The comments are working again for this page so I'm going to move the second page of remarks to this one. I'll just copy them over to here.

Anonymous said...

Dearest Carole,
I've done my reading and re-reading of Chapter 33! It is, as always, beautifully written. One thing that jumps out at me is how much easier it will be for both C&V to deal with their workday issues/problems when they know they will be able to see each other at the end of each day!! I, too, agree that C can and should be a woman of both worlds. Keep up the great work - we are all like the children who anxiously awaited each Saturday at the movies to see the next installment in an exciting action serial! I love their intimate moments, even when they have to daydream about them! It's going to be wonderful for V to meet everyone, and especially when he can see the sculpture. I ramble I know, but I'm running out of adjectives to let you know how very much I love your writing and how very much it means to me.


SEPTEMBER 22, 2009 4:14 PM

Carole W said...
Jitterbug, you're so kind. Thank you. It means so much to know you're still enjoying the story.

Yes, I can't wait for Vincent to see the sculpture too! When will that ever happen???? ;-)

Chapter 34 ~ The Worldless Rose ~ is coming along. I wish I could shave off a day or two from the between-postings though I am doing better here lately, don't you think? I hope its a permanent trend, this shortening.

Thanks again, J. Really, you made my day.
~ Carole

SEPTEMBER 22, 2009 9:58 PM

Krista said...

Carole, what Jitterbug said. :) I check my own website often---not because I like looking at it, but because it updates me when you post something new. Now I know how all of those people who grew up with the "Saturday Evening Post" serials felt. :)

Vincent and that statue...oh, my....:)


SEPTEMBER 23, 2009 8:23 AM

Carole W said...
Krista, I have all sorts of imaginings for the unveiling of the statue and unveiling V as well. ;-)

Can't wait to get to that part.

It's been a herd of turtles, hasn't it, getting to Chapter 33? Thanks for your patience with the down-time.


SEPTEMBER 23, 2009 12:39 PM

RomanticOne said...

Vincent still seems to be an enigma. But isn't that part of what draws us to him? Strong, yet fearful of causing pain to those he loves. Awesomely masculine on the outside with a romantic soul on the inside. I'll take an enigma like that anytime!

SEPTEMBER 25, 2009 12:59 AM

Carole W said...
R-1! I agree. His mystery, the labyrinth of his emotions, the tangle of his thoughts - how he exacts from himself his best being. A magnet, for sure.


SEPTEMBER 25, 2009 1:02 PM

Brandy said...

Argh! Carole, the stupid system wouldn't let me post! *kicks it*

Oh, so many things to say about this chapter! I've always enjoyed writers' references to Catherine's coffee addiction. As it's an addiction I share, it makes me gleeful to imagine all the nifty coffee perks to be had Below.

And I love the final line: Drat. I forgot my umbrella. Man, after a morning remembering that scene, I'd phone in! "Sorry Joe, have to lie here and reminisce about Vincent brushing my hair." Not that I'm a proponent of smoking, but that scene deserved a cigarette.

In the vein of hilarity I'm stuck in, your poem.

The parasol is the umbrella's daughter, by Emily Dickinson

The parasol is the umbrella's daughter,
And associates with a fan
While her father abuts the tempest
And abridges the rain.

The former assists a siren
In her serene display;
But her father is borne and honored,
And borrowed to this day.

Carole W said...

Brandy, you're so funny. I know my knees would be jelly even with just remembering, not mentioning the happening. I'd not have the hand-eye coordination to make the phone call to Joe most likely either.

Ah, Emily. She is the most interesting woman. I've never read this poem either, even after an entire quarter's course of just her. Thank you!

I don't know what happened with the comments on this chapter for a while. They worked, they quit working, they work again. For now.

Great to hear from you. I've had folks ask me where the poems went. We need you.

~ Carole

Brandy said...

Aw, Carole, it's so nice to be needed! And SO nice to be back! I'd forgotten how much reading your work restores my soul. :)

Krista said...

It's so good to see this chapter again---that gauze scene is one of my favorites in all of fanfic and, um, yeah...I don't smoke but I might need a cigarette now. :-) I love how the mystery of whatever Vincent is appears even then and how Catherine won't let him hide from her. They truly are... amazing

Great job, again and still. :)

-Krista :)

Anonymous said...

Mmmmmm . . . Mmmmmmm . . . Mmmmmmm . . . LOVED this chapter! I'm completely on board with Catherine remaining a woman of BOTH worlds. to my mind, moving ENTIRELY Below would diminish her. What she brings to that community in terms of access to the upper echelons of society, the criminal justice system, etc., is invaluable. What she brings to Vincent in terms of finding more and more ways to quietly, safely, broaden his horizons, to imagine and make plans that include him, is beyond measure.

As always -- MORE!

Regards, Lindariel

RomanticOne said...

This has always been one of my favorite chapters. It speaks of so many possibilities and promises. You make us see them all.

Carole W said...

Krista - I was rereading the comments made on this chapter accckk! nearly two years ago. That dark showing of himself caused some confusion and I remember getting some ??? emails. But you nailed it when you said "the mystery (and the fun) of Vincent as a character is that no one, not even he, knows what he really is". The truth beyond knowledge really is inexplicable. In the revision, I didn't change that scene at all. Without mystery, life's just duller.

Thank you again again again! for re-reading.


Carole W said...

Hi, Lindariel! I agree Catherine shouldn't move permanently below for exactly your reason - She is Vincent's window, perhaps his doorway. ;-) Now, I do think their private chambers below are pretty spectacular and believe she'd spend a good deal of time there. After all, Below, Vincent is free to be, and above, there are limitations. As they grow together as a couple, she'd want to be apart from him … never! And maintaining a single woman persona has to be almost impossible.

Without giving away the story line from chapters you've not read, I'll just say this: Something nifty happens later - or at least there's a great big hint of a story to come after Iron/Velvet.

Thank you so much for leaving a response to the chapter. I'm really grateful.


Carole W said...

R-1, bless your heart. You know how to make me buckle down and write harder - with a smile on my face. Nothing makes me happier than to know you see the story. I'm so glad and relieved and pleased. Thank you for telling me. Your encouragement makes me able to continue. Makes me want to.

Thank you for favorite-ing this chapter! :-D. I like these moments of remembering (and can't wait to get C and V together in a scene again.) When I opened it to edit, I didn't find much to change. I'm really glad you still like it.



SandyX said...

Oh boy, I love this chapter. So many good things here. The "Look away" scene ... sigh. "She shook her head – slowly – denying him this one thing." That's just perfect, Carole. The only thing C would deny him is that, to turn away from any part of him. That may be my favorite part of the whole story so far, it's so absolutely them.

The Benny/Jimmy twins, the coffee, the return of the horns (hee), all great fun and wonderful to visit again.

Carole W said...

Thank you, thank you Sandy. That she wouldn't turn away from him is one of the central pins of this story. That he'd let himself be - be his united self if only for a moment - and what happens next? Communion, bliss, oneness. When they have a few moments together to take inventory of all their glories ...!

This was a fun chapter to revisit. I'm glad, all these months later, you still like it.


NYC Utopia said...

So do I, so do I... what are you /thinking/ ? How could we not like it anymore? ;)